At an age when children should be studying in school and playing around, many are unfortunately forced to work in fields and factories. Not only are they denied proper nutrition or care,but exposed to hazardous environments, slavery and even other illicit activities like drug trafficking and prostitution. This in turn tends to have a lasting and irreversible effect on their physical, mental, and social development, thereby robbing them of their future.
With a view to fight this reality, the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002. The idea behind this was to encourage people and organisations to take actions to eliminate it.
According to a new report by the ILO and UNICEF, the number of children engaged in labour rose to 160 million worldwide out of which 8.4 million of them were forced into it in the last four years. And, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that many more are at risk.
Several individuals, NGOs and government bodies are trying to create a difference and ensure a happy and prosperous future for children. Here are a few of them:
The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) founded by Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, works tirelessly to ensure children are free, safe, healthy and receive quality education.
Kailash Satyarthi established the organisation with a mission to end all forms of violence against children including child trafficking, child labour and slavery. Over the years his team has not only become a global voice in protecting child rights, but also an aid to governments, corporates, grassroots organisations who are working towards protection of child rights.
Anju Verma, Buland Udaan
Anju Verma, a young girl from Haryana, laid the foundation for the NGO Buland Udaan (‘Buland’ means courageous, and ‘Udaan’ means flight) in 2017. And, since then she and her team have been striving for child empowerment. Her aim was to create ‘child-friendly India’ by eradicating child labour, child marriage, female foeticide and child abuse.
National Child Labour Project (NCLP), Government of India
In 1988, the Central Government kicked off the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) for the rehabilitation of working children across 12 districts in India. However, over time this has expanded to 271 sanctioned NCLPs after the XI plan.
Today, the scheme seeks to adopt a sequential approach with a focus on helping children who work in hazardous occupations. It identifies children fighting the social evil, rehabilitates them and enrolls them in schools so that they can join the formal education system. NCLP also caters to the nutritional and health care needs of the children. In addition it entitles a monthly stipend of Rs 150 for every child.
At present, around 6,000 special schools are in operation under the scheme and more than 10 lakh children who have been saved from the clutches of child labour are pursuing their education by attending classes regularly.
Child Rights and You (CRY)
CRY (Child Rights and You) is an Indian non-profit organization that believes in providing a childhood for every child - where they can live, learn, grow and play. Established in 1979, CRY runs a whopping 860 initiatives and is working with parents and communities to drive a positive transformation in the lives of over 20 lakh children across 23 states in India.
Through their projects, CRY is attempting to give children free quality education and primary health care. During the course of this, the organisation believes in working with the community at the grassroot level.
CRY also writes to various ministries and statutory bodies, encouraging capacity building of government officials who are aiming for the welfare of children. This includes early childhood care and development, elementary education, juvenile justice and rehabilitation.
Save the Children
Hailed as India’s leading independent child rights’ NGO, Save the Children, works in 18 states across India. Founded in 2008, it registered as ‘Bal Raksha Bharat’ and from then on it has changed the lives of more than 11 million children.
Save the Children works even in the most remote corners of the country to eradicate child labour. Some of the prominent initiatives include -
- Educating communities about the ills attached to child labour and discouraging them from engaging in it
- Increasing enrolment rates of children at school so as to ensure quality education
- Identifying and mapping child laborers, vulnerable children and out-of-school children and facilitate their education
- Rehabilitation and counselling of children
Thus, through these initiatives, the organisation intends to bring together the government and civil society organisations to ensure that no child loses their childhood working in factories and fields.
Researched and edited by Roshni Shroff
Some resources and links to help you learn more about these endeavours fighting child labour -